It's been a long time coming, but effective April 8, 2014, Microsoft will finally drop support for Windows XP. What that means is no more security patches , nor will you be able to receive tech support from Microsoft for any issues that arise on Windows XP systems. Initially, Microsoft also planned to pull the plug on its free Security Essentials software for XP by ceasing to offer it as a download and cutting off definition updates, but that's no longer the case.
Update Chrome to find out which tab is making all that racket
If you consider yourself a power surfer, then it's probably not uncommon for you to have a dozen or so tabs open at any given time. Provided you have enough system RAM to handle that kind of load, there's nothing inherently wrong with loading up a bunch of tabs, but it sure can be annoying one of them starts playing music or an ad out of the blue. One way to track down the culprit is by reloading each tab one-by-one until the noise cuts out -- BAM, there's your culprit. Or you can run the latest version of Chrome (version 32) and see at a glance which tab is blaring through your speakers.
SimCity fans are about to their most requested feature
Maxis Emeryville has a New Year's resolution, one that you're going to like. It's to implement an offline mode for SimCity, which Maxis Emeryville GM Patrick Buechner said will roll out as a free download with Update 10 to all SimCity players. Users have complained since SimCity's release of the requirement for a persistent Internet connection, especially when EA's servers were having trouble.
Microsoft hopes new branding will help distance itself from Windows 8 criticisms
There will be an update to Windows 8.1 sometime later this year, which isn't surprising because Microsoft never stops working on Windows. Beyond that, however, Microsoft is reportedly gearing up to announce Windows 9 during its Build 2014 developer conference in April. Should things go plan, Windows 9, or "Threshold" if you prefer to use the codename, will launch to consumers a year later.
Let's not sugarcoat things, the McAfee brand isn't one that's well respected among enthusiasts, and it surely didn't help matters that its founder, John McAfee, had quite the adventure the past couple of years, one which started with him being wanted for questioning in a murder investigation in Belize to Mr. McAfee saying he played the "crazy card" in Guatemala to escape capture as part of a conspiracy by the Belize government. Suffice to say, we're not the least bit surprised Intel has decided to phase out the McAfee brand, we just wonder why it took so long.
Windows 8/8.1 finally tops 10 percent market share
For the first time in what feels like a hundred thousand years (slight exaggeration), Windows XP's share of the desktop operating system dipped below 30 percent according to data provided by NetMarketShare, and below 20 percent if you prefer the numbers tallied by StatCounter. Regardless of which one is more accurate, what's clear is that Windows XP users are abandoning ship at an increasingly brisk pace.
We (along with several other news outlets) missed this when it first happened, but apparently Valve did something back in September that it has never done before. After shutting down the multiplayer servers for Square Enix's Order of War: Challenge due to low traffic, Valve then went and yanked the game from user libraries on Steam of those who had purchased a copy. To the best of our knowledge, it's the first and only time Valve has done such a thing.
By far the biggest revelation of 2013 was that of the U.S. government's overreaching National Security Agency (NSA) and its PRISM surveillance program. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the government's ability to spy on various forms of communication by leaking several documents to the press, and since doing so, new information keeps coming out. One of the most recent reports claims the NSA routinely intercepts computer deliveries in order to exploit vulnerabilities to aid with spying.
A Mantle patch is coming, but bug stomping takes top priority
AMD anticipated Battlefield 4 (BF4) being the first PC title to support its new Mantle API via a patch that was supposed to be made available before the end of the month. As it stands, BF4 will still be the first Mantle-optimized title, but the promised patch won't debut until sometime next month. Word from those in the trenches is that fixing various bugs in BF4 is taking a bit longer than expected.
Steam's winter sale is drawing a record number of concurrent users
If you missed out on Grand Theft Auto IV on the PC, you can snag it on Steam for just $4.99, which is 75 percent off its normal selling price. Fallout: New Vegas is also marked down 75 percent to the ridiculously low price of $2.49, and you can find scores of other games at discounted prices as part of Steam's Holiday Sale for 2013. Not by coincidence, while all this is going on, Steam just recorded the largest number of concurrent users.